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New system to address drug shortages

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The implementation in the Northern Cape saw an improvement in drug supplies to health facilities.

A team will shuttle between the Northern Cape and Limpopo will oversee the roll-out of a new medicine stock procurement system in an attempt to address medicine shortages. Picture: Pexels

A TEAM that will shuttle between the Northern Cape and Limpopo will oversee the roll-out of a new medicine stock procurement system in an attempt to address medicine shortages.

This was announced by the Department of Health following numerous media reports about drug stock-outs, especially in Limpopo.

“At issue is the new pharmaceutical warehouse management system, whether it works, and whether it is the system that is able to solve the challenges at hand,” Health Ministry spokesperson, Popo Maja, said.

Maja pointed out that Auditor-General of South Africa performed the country’s first ever performance audit of the management of pharmaceuticals at provincial Departments of Health throughout the country, starting in 2011.

“The audit took five years to complete and found that the country had 10 medicals depots, one in each province and two in the Eastern Cape. The 10 depots were using four different electronic systems to manage stock and make sure that hospitals and clinics have enough supplies.”

Maja added that the auditor-general found that all these systems were obsolete and problematic and recommended that a new system be found.

“A meeting was then called between all provincial Departments of Health and National Treasury. It was envisaged that National Treasury would assist the Department of Health to procure a new, uniform system that would be used by all provinces rather than different systems. The National Treasury then decided that there will be no need to procure any system because they had already commissioned the design of a new system that will be owned by the state. This system was called Intenda Warehouse Management System, now called G-Commerce.”

The system was piloted in the Northern Cape in March 2017 where, according to Maja, it experienced a lot of teething technical problems which have been resolved. “Implementation is ongoing and where problems are identified they are resolved.” He added that the department had resolved to continue with the system and that any challenges encountered would be dealt with.

The new system went live in Limpopo in July, where it has reportedly resulted in delays in the delivery of medicine across clinics in that province.

According to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, its implementation in the Northern Cape saw an improvement in drug supplies to health facilities.

“We are bringing six people who have used it in the Northern Cape. It has improved drug supply tremendously in the Northern Cape supply.”

The national Department of Health will dispatch the six-person team, three full-time and another three, shuttling between Limpopo and the Northern Cape to support both provinces.